Why am I bored with life?

Being bored in life can at once seem like the most normal experience we can have but also one stricken with anxiety. The admission of being bored, or even more, being bored of life, can be interpreted as an admission of not knowing what to do or what you are doing - a vulnerable honesty.

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In society today, you can be mistaken for thinking that the worst thing you can admit is not knowing what to do. It can feel like many of the messages that our culture gives us today is that, at the very least, we should know what we want and then it is simply our life’s mission to get it.

What psychoanalyst Adam Phillips referred to as “the banal crisis of boredom” reveals the problem we may be facing is not only that we sometimes do not know what we want but also what we can do with the pain of waiting as we make efforts to work it out.

In many ways, boredom is presented as the lack of experience rather than its presence, but just as grief could be described as the emergence of loss, it can be experienced as an intense presence within us with an abundance of meaning.


What could being bored of life mean?

One common anxiety of those who come to therapy is that of what to speak about with their therapist. Boredom itself can be said to be one of the prime examples of when we feel at our most inarticulate. In some ways, the heartache of what to do with our lives can acquire such a sense of normality for us as to feel inherent in our daily lives and, therefore, to know where to start the process of unpicking becomes unimaginable.

If we see being bored in this way, it can seem to address one of the fundamental issues of therapy - what do we want our conversations to be about and why is it that we find these things so difficult to speak about?

The question “What would you like to speak about?” could be rephrased as “What are you interested in?” or “What do you want?”

If there is one thing that our cultural conversation is preoccupied with today it is in how to get what you want but not how you get to know what it is that you might be wanting. So, if life is about getting what we want, it would seem like the game has started without us if we aren’t quite sure what we are attempting to get for ourselves, and by extension - what is important to us. Or, as Slovenian Philosopher Slavoj Zizek puts it “How do I know that I desire a strawberry cake in the first place?”

How can therapy help?

If we are to agree that it is the client who is the expert on themselves then what is it that the therapist and therapy can offer? Having space in which not knowing can be accepted without judgement and where we feel allowed to experience our frustrations without preempting them by distraction, we can allow for the capacity of boredom to be constructive rather than incapacitating.

Child analyst Donald Winnicott spoke of what it can be to live creatively and how, if given the good enough conditions, we can surprise ourselves and discover that we can ‘trust our unexpected originality’ and be ‘unmistakingly’ ourselves.

Our desires can be troubling to us in many ways and they may be difficult to admit to and, as a result, painfully in disguise to us. In response to this, therapy can offer the conversations we are not yet fully aware that we want and this is where we feel most stuck. The question of “Why am I bored of life?” is a very good question and one worthy of spending the time thinking and speaking about in an environment in which we can be unmistakingly ourselves.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Shrewsbury SY1 & Chester CH1
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Written by Jonathan Taylor
Shrewsbury SY1 & Chester CH1

Jonathan Taylor is a Therapeutic Counsellor trained in both psychodynamic and humanistic therapies. He previously worked as a teacher in Further Education - with a specialism in history.

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